18 month old Malkin Morris specialises in researching, performing and promoting the dances and tunes of Burnley, Pendle, Hyndburn and the Ribble Valley in Lancashire. They raise the image of traditional dance and music, the culture and identity of the area and provide opportunities for participants to have fun, improve physical fitness and learn performance skills.
Three of us started with a workshop in May 2017. 16 musicians and would-be dancers aged 17- 67 arrived so we learned ‘The Whalley’ the dance from a nearby village. The dancers included those with no experience, some from Clitheroe Country Fayre (c1976), others from Bobbins and Reelers (1980s), Park High School Bangles Beads and Bloomers (1980s) and Polyolbion.
Our musicians, the ‘Roughlee Ruffians’, play a range of instruments: flute, melodeon, accordion, concertina and mandola and are determined to work to make the tunes fit the dancers and not the other way round. We are so grateful to them for this support.
We look for local tunes and only perform dances from our local area, both step and NW processional morris and the resulting dancing has been exciting, energetic and very creative.
We have been awarded a grant by the Heritage Lottery Fund to produce a nationally available, readily accessible, free resource of local north west processional clog dance, step dance and local tunes, the project runs until August 2019.
This funding has helped us offer workshops to schools and community organisations, IT resources and clogs, as well as with collecting information from archives, libraries, books, newspapers and hopefully readers of this article! Dances and tunes are being lost over time and we must act quickly to preserve these now if they are not to vanish for ever.
Whilst talking to Padiham Rotary Club, the Shawforth was mentioned as being just outside our area. One of the Rotary members jumped and asked us where we had obtained the dance. David Cooke, (Rochdale Morris and Colne Royal) had written it, but we had obtained it from a workshop with Belfagan in Cockermouth. The Rotary member told us how it was originally taught at a folk club, and as he was a traditionalist and didn’t want to teach a current dance, he taught them basic steps and figures culled from other dances.
If you have any memories or records of morris or step dances and tunes from our area we would love to hear from you.
Contact Gin Crewe, Squire: 07887 844025 firstname.lastname@example.org Facebook: @localmorris
Or join us! We practise on Monday nights in Roughlee or Barley Hall in Lancashire